Oct. 12, 2018

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Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
Telemedicine is Great, But…

Enabling medical providers to connect with patients hundreds of miles away for a consultation using two-way video conferencing is an avenue where medicine is going. Referred to as “telemedicine,” this growing method of going to the doctor is a game changer for people like us who live outside of a major metropolitan city, and miles from the specialists which major hospitals in those cities have.

Currently, the House is considering Senate Bill 780, legislation which would mandate that insurance companies cover telemedicine as an office visit. Proponents of the bill argue that requiring insurance coverage of telemedicine will lower expenses. Insurance companies do not agree and oppose the legislation.

Before giving my opinion on this legislation, I should first remind everyone that I do not accept campaign contributions from any lobbyists, including the insurance lobby, so I am in no way carrying their water. However, I do believe them when they claim that additional government mandates which expand what insurance companies must cover ultimately lead to increases in insurance premiums. If it reduced costs, insurance companies would already be covering it.

Several years ago, the state mandated that insurance companies cover additional time for women giving birth. This was intended to stop “drive-by deliveries.” This mandate from the state increased the cost of maternity coverage to Pennsylvania families, including mine. Recall that I have six children.

Like any other business, when costs increase, insurance companies will find a way to pass that cost along to their consumers. Rather than interfering in the marketplace by creating even more government mandates, the state should allow the free market to find the path between consumers who want popular programs, such as telemedicine, and medical providers which are ready to offer them. As much as I look forward to the promises of this emerging technology, I do not see government as the critical party needed to bring it to market.

I expect that Senate Bill 780 will come up for a vote next week, and I encourage any constituent who has an opinion on this legislation to kindly let me know your thoughts. 
Cracking Down on Hazing

Legislation that seeks to better ensure the safety of students on college campuses by cracking down on hazing passed the House this week.

Senate Bill 1090 is a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s anti-hazing law to give law enforcement better tools to prosecute hazing-related activities and to encourage those nearby to call for assistance for someone who may need help.

Specifically, the bill would increase penalties for those involved in hazing; require schools to have policies and reporting procedures in place to stop hazing; and ensure that parents and students are provided with information related to the issue. The legislation also would establish clear parameters on hazing for fraternities and sororities.

The legislation is named in memory of Tim Piazza, a Penn State student who died as a result of hazing in 2017 and was denied medical care for hours. The measure now heads back to the Senate for concurrence. 
Giving Students Flexibility for Graduation Requirements

As a way to ensure students get the most out of their educational experience, the House passed legislation this week that would remove the heavy focus on standardized testing as a requirement to graduate and instead allow students various options to show proficiency in pursuing their own career paths.

Senate Bill 1095 would provide Pennsylvania students with additional options to fulfill high school graduation requirements beyond the Keystone Exams. Students who do not score proficient on the Keystone Exams would be able to demonstrate their readiness to graduate through alternative routes.

This legislation, which now goes back to the Senate, seeks to enhance a multi-bill package to expand career and technical education to benefit both students and employers looking to fill jobs in high-demand fields. 
New Law Enhances Training, Oversight of Humane Officers

To help ensure the state’s animal cruelty laws are enforced in the fairest way possible, legislation has been signed into law to strengthen the training and oversight of Humane Society police officers.

Act 77 of 2018 increases initial and annual training hours for Humane Society police officers, and requires the training to include the proper procedure to file citations and warrants, including when and how to contact other law enforcement.

Other provisions of the new law require training in farm operations and biosecurity, including at least one on-site visit to a working commercial farm operation. Any organization that employs Humane Society police officers will also be subject to the state’s Right-to-Know Law. 
How Did I Vote This Week?

Find out how I voted this week here. My goal is to be as open and transparent as possible about the votes I cast on legislation that is important to you.
Economic Update

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s General Fund revenue collections for September were $3.04 billion, which was $184 million more than the official estimate. So far this fiscal year, General Fund collections total $7.55 billion, which is $210 million, or 2.86 percent, above the official estimate. Learn more here
Road Work Ahead


Here is the list of road projects PennDOT has scheduled for Franklin County next week. Please exercise caution when driving through a work zone.

  • American Legion Highway in Guilford Township – lane closed for paving.
  • Clayhill Road in Antrim and Quincy townships – crack sealing.
  • Ft. McCord Road in Hamilton Township – pipe replacement.
  • Olde Scotland Road in Greene Township – seal base repair.
  • Ragged Edge Road in Greene Township – crack sealing.
  • Timmons Road in Fannett Township – closed at mountain from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for ditch cleaning.
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1402 E. Main Street, Waynesboro, PA 17268 | Phone: (717) 749-7384
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Email: pschemel@pahousegop.com